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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Gillis, LMHC


Why do we experience levels of discomfort? Why do we experience challenging roads and unbearable conditions? Can we bypass these experiences?

One winter weekend, I decided to take a road trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I didn’t map out the route in advance, I figured I would go where my GPS decided to take me. However, as I was driving, I started to feel uncomfortable about the area I drove into nevertheless, I kept driving. As I got closer to my destination, my GPS alerted me that I was one hour away from my destination but the road map ahead said it was 30 miles away. That didn't seem right to me. Before I proceeded, I notice everyone stopping at a rest stop, so I did too. Once I got out of the car, I saw a sign ahead that read "Welcome to the Smokey Mountains". I was a little confused. I mean how could the mountain be near when I had not even journeyed the additional 30 miles to get to Gatlinburg. Obviously, I didn't do my homework and I was caught off guard. Little did I know that Gatlinburg was stationed right outside of the mountain. I began to panic. I wasn't ready to drive through the mountain. That wasn't the plan.

I started calculating ways to avoid this journey. I really didn't want to back track. The road I had already traveled was already tedious. After talking with the park ranger, he assured me that the best course of action, was to travel the road ahead up the mountain and assured me that the path was worth the trot. Although, I was sure he was confident in his knowledge of the road. I was still hesitant. He had to sense this hesitation so once again, he looked at me and said "the only way to your destination at this point is to travel up the mountain, through it, and back down. Then to assure that I was aware, he added, "Now, Yes, there is another way you can take if you are willing to back track and add an additional 60 miles to your trip". So, I decided to trust his judgment. With apprehension, I got into my car and started up the mountain.

At first the drive was very scary. I was quite uncomfortable. I felt the pressure from those driving behind me forcing me to move faster along on the roads. I quickly had to learn how to make adjustments based upon the speed changes, forced accelerations, tunnels, and forced deceleration. There were times where I was overwhelmed with anxiety because I didn’t know what the course required from me. The course was all together unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary. However, despite what I had to encounter, when I made it to the top I realized the pressures, anxiety, and challenges of making it to the top was necessary. At the top, the view was breathtaking. It was a humbling experience that made me thankful that I had taken the necessary steps to get to the top.

This road experience can be related to the roads we travel in life. You may have to face uncharted roads, and be uncomfortable with where you are. However, no matter the turns, tunnels, and/or forced acceleration, these roads are necessary for growth. If I had not taken the scary road, I wouldn't have known that innately I had the ability to maneveur through those challenging roads. I would've miss the high points and beautiful scenery along the way. This is the same as in life. If you try to take a different path, you miss out on opportunities to grow. If we stay the same, then we miss the chance of tapping into our full potential. A man doesn't know his own strength until he is tried.

Each road that brings about discomfort is necessary for your journey. Learn to continue on and progress through the uncomfortable moments. While on your journey, don't forget to admire where you are. There is beauty in everything; collateral damage. Take the time to notice. See the beauty that is around you every day no matter what.

I ask you, Will you become so consume with the journey that you praise the highs and curse the lows? I challenge you to change your perspective and embrace the entire Mountain Experience. Everything you had to experience was and is necessary for you to reach the top. Therefore, climb and don’t forget to enjoy the view on your way up!

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